30 Ch. 30 On the Sea

Twenty-Seventh Day of the Third Moon, of the year 295 A.C.

I've discovered that I hate sailing. The rocking of the ship can be hypnotic. The smell of the salt air is oddly refreshing. But the gross amount of time you have to sit and reflect on everything is miserable.

Every attempt was made to limit the amount of time I would be forced to spend alone in my cabin. In there, I had nothing to do but think.

I occupied my time by learning how to be a sailor, everything from climbing the rigging to navigation. No matter what job I engrossed myself in, my boredom would eventually resurface. Even sparring with the men could only distract me for so long.

During the first week, I dedicated my free-time to devising a plan for our arrival at Lys and the inevitable manhunt for the Targaryens. I approached this as if I was planning a covert operation, placing secrecy from watchers and spies alike.

My men and I didn't have to worry about our faces being recognized since communication and pictures were barely existent. But we still had things that could identify us as being from the Westerlands, and that is something I didn't want to get back to Varys.

Our first step was flying a different flag on the masts of the merchanter we were sailing on. With the standard of Oldtown flying over our heads, I turned my focus to the soldiers themselves.

The soldiers have drastically changed over the past two years of training under my guidance. Most of the men's rigid posture and movements couldn't be easily hidden. Their narrowed eyes and confident walk would mark them as highly trained warriors to anyone that cared to look at them.

Fortunately, sell-swords are extremely common in the Free-Cities, but foreign soldiers would draw unwanted attention. I made the men change out their uniforms and plate in-exchange for mail, leather, and regular clothing. Once weapons where altered and beards were starting to grow, the men of Master Sergeant Roland's platoon looked the part of a small sell-sword band.

From there, we worked on altering or adapting different accents. There was no point in disguising yourself if people could identify where you were from the moment you opened your mouth. Mostly from sheer boredom, I made each man come up with a different backstory and name. Some of the aliases were rather interesting, such as Corporal Jate being called Sword-Swallower.

The sailors were also questioned about everything they could tell me about Lys. They explained the laws, food, customs, and the location of all the tavern and pillow-houses the typical sailor or sell-sword would frequent. After learning of the strict penalties for the murder of any free person, our mission turned from murder to abduction... then murder on the high seas.

While the sailors would praise the beauty and architecture of Lys, I was more concerned with its size. An estimated 400,000 total people were living within the walls of the Perfumed Sister. Such a large population would make it difficult to find the Targaryens but, I never counted on stumbling into them at the market. They should be housed in a noble or merchant's estate. Which narrowed down our search area.

I made a crude sketch of the city from the sailors' descriptions. I then systematically divided the city into sectors and assigned the men to gather intelligence and gossip from their assigned area.

Having the men so spread out across Lys, we had to come up with prearranged meeting times and locations. I also stressed as much counter-intelligence techniques as I could think of. It was made clear that I didn't want anyone to try to openly buy information from a broker. They might be able to turn us to the Targaryens quicker but, I was more worried about them selling knowledge of a group of men looking for the last Dragons.

After all this, we were only halfway through our journey.

With an over-abundance of time to think, I began to look into why the thought of killing Daenerys was so unsettling for me. To start, I took a few steps back and tried to get a look at the bigger picture.

The thought of faceless children and women dying didn't bother me. I didn't know them, nor would I encounter anyone that did. I didn't wish for it to happen, but I wasn't compiled to try and stop it either.

That's when I realized why Daenerys was so unique. I knew her, or at least a version of who she would be. I had spent years reading about her and watching her. I got to see the world from her point of view and witnessed her trials and victories.

Daenerys Targaryen was a real person in my eyes, as real as anyone at Casterly Rock. There was no love or lust, just the recognition that she was a living breathing person, with thoughts and feelings. Issuing an order to kill a faceless being that threatened my loved ones was easy. That order became harder to give when I viewed that person as someone I knew to have an actual life.

Reviewing the rest of my metaknowledge, I discovered that Daenerys wasn't the only Game of Thrones character I viewed this way. There were nearly a dozen other people that I thought of as real as my own parents, despite never meeting them.

I decided to make an effort to overcome such thoughts. For the ones, I did view as dangerous to the Lannisters. I would have to work on dissociating them in my mind and viewing them as the threat they really were.

The bizarre thing, not everyone I viewed as being a real person would cause a stirring in my stomach at the thought of ending their life. Jon Connington and the Blackfyre stood out in my mind. I only read a few chapters about them. It was just enough to know they were a threat to Westeros.

Jon Connington was the greater threat between the two. Without Connington to validate the Blackfyre as being the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, he wouldn't gain any support in Westeros. No one would believe the Blackfyre's word that he somehow escaped the Mountain when a body was present with his sister and mother's bodies.

Then there was Baelish. Like Daenerys, I knew a great deal about Petyr Baelish. The difference was I viewed Baelish as a tremendous threat, beyond deserving of a blade between his ribs. Which he got several of while standing in the middle of his own brothel.

Something that piqued my interest was my feelings towards Tywin Lannister. My uncle was an asshole to everyone, but few with the name of Lannister actually feared him the way Westeros did. Tywin would dispense punishments to any family member that he viewed deserved it, but it was never life-threatening or degrading. He was afraid of a Lannister being seen in an unflattering light.

Knowing all this, and years of contact and conversation with the man, I had no plans of saving him. In the book, Prince Oberyn Martell poisons Tywin before Tyrion's trial. By Tyrion shooting Tywin with a crossbow, he actually saved Tywin from a great deal of pain.

Yet sitting here with knowledge of Oberyn's intention to assassinate the man I've spent years with... I find myself undecided on what to do.

Maybe it's because...

"We'll be dockside shortly, Lord General," Master Sergeant Roland said from beside me.

Doing a quick scan of the soldiers around the deck, I can't help but smile. We really do look like a band of efficient sell-swords. A common sight in the Free Cities.

"You all know your assignments," I told the disguised soldiers around me. "Spread out, blend in, and let's go hunt some Dragons."

Next chapter